Pelikan et al. 2022: When a robot comes to life

Pelikan, Keevallik, and Broth have published a paper, entitled “When a Robot Comes to Life: The Interactional Achievement of Agency as a Transient Phenomenon“.


Conceptualizing agency is a long-standing theoretical concern. Taking an ethnomethodological and conversation analytic perspective, we explore agency as the oriented to capacity to produce situationally and sequentially relevant action. Drawing on video recordings of families interacting with the Cozmo toy robot, we present a multimodal analysis of a single episode featuring a variety of rapidly interchanging forms of robotic (non-)agency. We demonstrate how agency is ongoingly constituted in situated interaction between humans and a robot. Describing different ways in which the robot’s statuses as either an agent or an object are interactionally embodied into being, we distinguish “autonomous” agency, hybrid agency, ascribed agency, potential agency and non-agency.

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